Recently I had a conversation with Jack Androvich, who will be keynoting at our Customer Intelligence Forum in Los Angeles on April 18th. Here are a few key takeaways from this conversation. If you are a CI professional, a marketer who cares about the role of technology in your job, or a technologist serving marketers, you will find the conversation enlightening. 

     1.       Jack, marketing operations functions tend to have a broad mandate; can you tell us the role of marketing operations at Autodesk and how you defined the mandate for this function?

We started the function in 2005 as a CMO “utility drawer” spanning planning, staff meeting management, goals & measures tracking, training etc. We also owned the marketing resource management technology and database for campaigning. In early 2006 we embraced analytics and data as a competitive separator and began down a path of creating a customer & market intelligence practice. Alongside this we created a marketing investments team to track spend across multiple dimensions and a marketing IT team to stay ahead of the innovation curve on topics like personalized engagement. At the time, these functions sat in the CMO office with the Field Marketing teams handling campaign design, execution & reporting. This February we put the MI/CI and investment practices into our new Industry Strategy & Marketing group to continue delivering insights on opportunity to the company as a whole. We also merged Field Marketing Operations and the data/MRM pieces with Sales Ops to create a new Global Sales & Marketing Ops function. The teams continue to work closely together across organizational boundaries to further our vision of marketing ops enabling profitable revenue growth.

2.       How did you build out your marketing technology strategy?

We started with the notion of “use what we already own and use or don’t use,” which included our MRM/database, homegrown web content management software and a few other pieces. At the time we had no real CRM capability nor unified thread for campaign & response management or audience development. And ownership of these technologies was all over the company. So we created a Marketing Tech Advisory Board to coordinate the conversations about technologies, interfaces, data etc., between Marketing and our corporate IT group. We also joined our company’s Data Council to ensure a coherent data enrichment and quality strategy. Finally, we created an “Operations Alliance” to inventory our marketing technologies and guide the investments separately from marketing program spend. Although our recent org changes have altered the strategy somewhat, the basic intent is intact and we continue the conversations to ensure we’re using the very best technologies in support of our practices where and when we can.

3.       Given the focus on data, technology, and analytics in your organization, how did you define a working model to engage IT?

Data quality was a foundational requirement to us and we partnered with our corporate data team to drive a common vision and plan that relied on IT as our platform provider. Regarding our “Marketing IT” thread, IT was busy struggling with our core business applications, regulatory and capacity issues. We already had a “hybrid model” of hosting our MRM with them in the data center yet doing the application configuration and SME support ourselves. So we created a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that defines the core hardware and application availability as guaranteed by IT, and they continue to support the “stack” and work jointly with us on upgrade strategies, vendor engagement, etc. We also use the Tech Advisory Board noted above and have an “IT Business Partner” whose job it is to synthesize sales/marketing ops IT demand and ensure the right prioritization and resource allocations processes are in place to further our business objectives.

4.       Tell us what worked and what didn’t work?

What’s worked is a high degree of transparency with the IT team including the CIO about WHY we are running a marketing IT team. We have regular conversations to validate this strategy. Early engagement with the IT architects has also helped . . . we are able to leverage standard platforms, infrastructure and interfaces while we also ensure excellent overall governance. What didn’t work was an arcane process for IT resource allocation that had marketing competing for IT resources against sales and others. The introduction of the IT Business Partner and an Agile backlog prioritization process has eliminated that issue. We also had almost zero IT data architects for several years, which meant that Marketing IT had to do the design for some core data models and processes. That’s also been addressed.

5.       What is the future of technology in marketing? How would you recommend marketing departments plan for a technology enabled future?

If you’re in B2C or C2C, whether it’s traditional media like TV or online, you’re already understanding that marketing and technology are inseparable. For B2B companies, or those in transition toward a mix, it depends on your customer types, marketplace and “go to customer” approach. I suggest you somehow get or engage talent (employees, agencies, or consultancies) that can assist you in creating a strategy to accommodate whatever technologies you need to succeed, be they on-premise, in the cloud or a hybrid. I also suggest you start with the business problems and questions you seek to solve or answer . . . these can drive the data and applications strategy and approach in a virtuous cycle of innovation, insight and high business impact.